Bear Canister

Alaska Ride – June 18th – Day #24

Before we go to bed at night, we stash the bear canisters away from our tents. We stack them up so that they will (hopefully) make some noise if something is getting into them. Well, I dreamed that we had a bear in our camp last night, and when I got out of bed, our canisters were knocked over. Was the dream real? or was gravity just asserting itself…I guess we’ll never know…

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Another sunny morning start…beginning to think that it never rains here (although we did run into some rain later in the day). Today’s beautiful mountain ride was along a large inlet just South of Anchorage, on the way to the Kenai Peninsula, then up over a small mountain pass. We stopped for gas and talked to another rider who was worried about snow on the pass (it was 65F at the gas station at sea level). So we made sure all our heated gear was plugged in, tank bag covers were on, etc – got everything tightened up for some potential bad weather – well, the pass was just over 1000’ and it wasn’t even raining.

We stopped at the Sunrise Cafe’ in Cooper Landing for lunch.

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Had myself a patty melt. I figure I could use the extra calories since I’ve been eating so light on the trip so far 🙂

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After lunch we continued on toward Homer. I quickly noticed that my rear tire pressure had dropped to 34psi (it usually runs around 46psi once the tire is warmed up). Oh no, my plug is starting to leak! We pulled over to pump the tire up to see if it will start to hold. A guy comes over from a nearby building to ask if we need any help…he says there is a Harley dealer about 40 miles away in Soldotna. We decide to test the tire and see if we can limp in to get some help. The tire still has a slow leak and we had to stop one more time to add air.

We finally made it to Kenai Peninsula Harley-Davidson. These guys rocked! Neither one of us are riding Harleys, but the crew at the shop didn’t care and were a ton of help getting us fixed up and going again.

They did not have a tire that would fit my bike – which doesn’t surprise me because my bike uses a wacky tire size. They also do not repair tires, but they did call a bunch of tire shops in town for me to see if we could find someone who would. That was a no go. Next, they called the KTM dealer in Anchorage and found a tire that would work! The KTM guys (they actually carry a ton of brands, BMW, Kawasaki, Husky…) have a huge backlog of work, but if I show up tomorrow morning about an hour before they open, they would take care of it for me.

Now the problem was getting my bike back to Anchorage. Well, the last plug held for 400 miles or so, so I figured I’d just try again. They let me bring the bike into their shop so I could work on it. We sprayed soapy water over the plug and it was clearly leaking. So I popped it out (or really into the tire) and put in a new plug. Did the soap test again and it looked like it was holding! So we high five all the guys and head next door to the gas station to top off our tanks.  In that short ride, my tire pressure dropped by 4psi, so we aborted and went back to the Harley shop.

I have a roadside assistance program for my RV, and it covers all of my vehicles. So I called them up to see if they would tow the bike back to Anchorage. The lady on the phone started working the problem for me. After several calls back and forth, it seemed like we were about to be done when an issue popped up. My plan covers me for a tow to the nearest service center – which for a motorcycle was the Harley dealer I was already at! I tried to weasel around that by telling them that the shop would only work on HD bikes, but they would just tow me to a different tire shop in town. So this plan was a bust.

The next plan – take the wheel off the bike, rent a car and drive it to Anchorage. The shop was cool with us leaving the bikes inside overnight while we made our run for the tire (did I mention these guys rock?). Not only that, Si, the shop manager, was willing to drive me to the airport so I could pick up the rental car. One of their regular customers overheard, and was heading in that direction, so he volunteered! While I was getting the rental car, my dad took the rear wheel off the bike.

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Next came a two hour drive back to Anchorage. We did see some Buffalo on the way back (we hadn’t seen any of those yet). We pulled into town about 9p. We stopped at a couple of different hotels and they were full. So, we started calling around, and every place was full. We called at least 10 different hotels. We finally ended up hat a Hotel 6 in a nasty smelling, smoking room. Ugh.

Grabbed some late dinner and went to bed. Feeling good about tomorrow.

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North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #2

Day #2 was our first day of actual backpacking. The route for the day was to go from Hozomeen to the Deerlick backcountry stock camp (GPS route can be found here), the entire day was away from Ross Lake.

Here is a 3D screenshot from Google Earth. It shows how rugged the terrain around us was, but doesn’t really give a good idea of our total elevation gain for the day (about 1800′).

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We were all up early – a bit after 5a. I fired up my Jetboil and made some yummy maple-brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast and then we broke camp to start off on our adventure.

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The trailhead was about 1/2 mile from the campsite. About halfway there, Michelle asked for the time. I reached down for my Fitbit to check the clock, and it was gone! So, I walked back to the campsite and started to search. After making two loops around the site, the outhouse, and the water spigot I gave up. No step counting for me Sad smile.

Like all hikes in Washington, it started by going uphill Smile. The very beginning of the trail was lightly wooded through exposed granite, which I thought was pretty cool. This rapidly turned into a thick forest without much of a view.

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We did pass a tree that looked like the victim of a lightning strike.

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The trail was clear all the way to the first intersection. This was a large tree that had been recently cleared. I should have put something in the picture to give a better reference to the size.

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The intersection to the Hozomeen Lake trail was about 3 miles in. Just prior to this intersection, we passed a group of about 10 kids heading back to Hozomeen. These were the only people we saw the entire day…In the picture below, everyone is still happy and having fun at this point.

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The first of many trees that we needed to crawl over.

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The first stream crossing.

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I was in the back while we were hiking along. Sometimes I got to hear interesting conversations like:

“What was that?” followed by “Don’t turn around!” and “Get out the bear spray” then a bush next to the trail erupting while a grouse took off. I guess Michelle wanted to add some pepper flavor for dinner…

Did I mention that the bugs were nasty so far? This was the intersection that went off to the Willow Lake Campsite. The bugs were the worst along Willow Lake – we went through half of our bug spray by this point. I can’t imagine staying at this camp…would have had to hide in the tent the entire time.

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The trail along the lake, this was typical of most of the day. trees everywhere and not much to see.

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View of Willow Lake through the trees. This was the best view of the lake from the trail. Still pretty tough to see.

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Trent at a quick rest break.

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We are now about 5 miles into the hike and the girls are ready to be done. Here they are voting against continuing after our resupply point when we cross highway 20. They were already coming up with a plan for sun bathing back at Lake Chelan.

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Navigating over one of the larger logs in the trail.

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We all found the hike for this day to be pretty boring. Most of the time we were in the woods that were very thick and unable to see much. As we descended from Willow Lake, we did hit a very cool section of trail that went along the outlet stream from the lake. This short section went through a narrow valley with several small waterfalls.

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We were all carrying bear canisters for holding all of our scented items. I had mine strapped on the bottom of my pack, and it kept falling out, making for endless Donkey Kong jokes.

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Nightmare Camp was the next site we passed along the way. The bugs were starting to thin out at this point. It would have made a nice place to spend the night.

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Crossing Lightning Creek.

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Lightning Creek.

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For some reason, I did not get any pictures at the campsite. There were 2 sites and an area for horses – one of the sites had some makeshift benches, but did not have a good area for our tents. Being the only group at the campsite, we used this one for dinner, and set the tents up at the better site. To get our water, we had to hike 100 yards down a steep hill to a creek. We spent part of the afternoon hanging out on a gravel bar. It was hot outside, and the creek was very cold.

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Along one side of the gravel bar there was a nice slow channel. Trent and I took a quick dip in it.

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Dinner was the usual freeze dried fare. We ate and then were off to bed relatively early. It was an early start to the day and the 10ish miles we hiked took a bit out of everyone.

North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #1
North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #3